Hope or Despair?

Psalm 38 – I Wait for You, O Lord

Psalm 38 is a mixture of confession and a plea for restoration. David is sick and believes he is under divine punishment. In this psalm we learn to place our situation into God's hands and trust that God will restore us.


Interestingly this psalm does not have much in the way of special structural devices except for the use of three different names for God in verse 15. I believe this technique is used to highlight this verse as the key verse for the psalm. It is easy to focus on all of the negative images in this psalm, but I believe they are there to make this verse shine all the brighter.

Utterly Crushed

Psalm 38:1-8

The first verse is such a powerful prayer all by itself.

O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger,
    nor discipline me in your wrath! Psalm 38:1

Where would we be if God punished us as we deserve? Who could stand before His wrath? It is good to know that we are forgiven in Christ.

The rest of this section is a description of David's guilt and the punishment God has placed on him. His state is one of intense guilt and a completely crushed spirit.

I am feeble and utterly crushed;
    I groan in anguish of heart. Psalm 38:8

I Wait for You

Psalm 38:9-18

It is in this section we find our key verse. But first David continues to lay out his sad condition. He is avoided by his friends and his enemies plot his final ruin. In his anguish he feels completely shut away like a blind and deaf person.

It is after painting this picture of complete despair that David places this powerful verse of hope. The verse feels like a shining light in a world of darkness.

But for you, O LORD, do I wait;
    it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer. Psalm 38:15

This verse stand out first because of its confident hope and also because of the three names of God: YHWH (LORD), Adonia (Lord) and Elohim (God.) In spite of all of his troubles, David is still confident that God will help. He just needs to wait for God.

Like David we should never loose hope, but continue to place our trust in God. It is too easy to give into despair and let the darkness close in. But we have a God that is worthy of our faith. When we keep our minds set on God we can wait with confident hope for His deliverance.

This section ends with confession. David acknowledges that he has sinned.

I confess my iniquity;
    I am sorry for my sin. Psalm 38:18

Come Quickly

Psalm 38:19-22

David's enemies are using his sickness as an excuse to try to destroy him. They repay his good with evil. But David is confident God will forgive him and not let his enemies be victorious over him.

David's last words are a cry for God to "come quickly."


I know there are many times that I would like God to come quickly. God is never late, but from our human perspective it does seem like He often makes us wait. May we have the same hope that David shows in this psalm and confidently wait for God's answer as we live in the space between our prayer and His answer.

Jerry Wyrick

This post is part of a series on the Psalms.

by Jerry Wyrick, President of Worship Arts Conservatory

Posted in Psalms and tagged , .